Simba SC can still make it, but our handicaps fail us

08Apr 2019
Editor
DAR ES SALAAM
The Guardian
Simba SC can still make it, but our handicaps fail us

LISTENING to pundits and media comments on the weekend encounter between Simba SC and TP Mazembe of DR Congo, what comes is disappointment with failing to use home ground to win this opening encounter, as this way it becomes easier to set sights on damage containment in the return leg. When-

the home match is played first and isn't to our advantage, chances rise of the opponents making it to the higher level by a better use of their home ground. It isn't a done issue that this will be the case but it is the stronger possibility.

While there is no prior analysis here made of the TP Mazembe team cast, it is unquestionable that their format or recruitment pattern has not changed from the time that Tanzanian lads Mbwana Samatta and Thomas Ulimwengu turned for that side. At that time it was reported that TP Mazembe had 18 foreign players out of a total of 30 registered players, implying that only 12 native Congolese players made it to the registered list of players for the country's best known club side. I underlines the fact that in club football a player has to be noticed by the coach of any specific team, and being a local players ought not to constitute a peculiar advantage.

That is what the soccer organisation and sports administrators at the higher levels of government are yet to realise, in which case our aspirations for top level honors in African club soccer suffer unnecessary handicaps. We have sponsors for a number of premier league sides who can register as many good players as possible who would accept the salaries offered in each side, as well as the sponsors' capacity of meeting the transfer fees. But this is held back by explicit policy that non-citizen  players should not exceed seven in total registration.

In that case the sports administrators are saying that it is better that out teams continue to lose against major teams, or pass through by miraculous chances - for instance failing to obtain a winner in  the Cape Verde vs Lesotho otie in Cape Verde, allowing 'Tanzania to pass on to the AFCON finals. The public here celebrated the 3-0 win against Uganda in relative oblivion of the fact that Uganda had nothing to lose in the match, and took relatively little notice of the chancy circumstance of the other encounter. Simba used home advantage well in the group stage, but was decidedly having the worst away results for any of the other clubs in their group, for once.

So we need to make up our minds what we really want, if it is to build winning sides on the basis of terms laid out or accepted by the Confederation of African Football (CAF), or impose our own conditions to give more chances for our youths to play. This way we scrape through by chance or miracle, both in club championships and in nationa' tournaments. The rule about player limitation needs to change to build stronger sides that are less amenable to vagaries of mood, of overconfidence or panic, likely to be steadier in high level encounters.